Note to self: This was a wonderful, wonderful dish, and I would not hesitate to serve it, or some version of it, to any guest, even as a main course; also, it was a beautiful convergence of necessity and availability.
This is when cooking gets pretty exciting. I wanted to find something which would demonstrate the tastiness of a pretty special ‘leftover’, and make it a full meal, and I knew I would not have much time to prepare a late supper after returning from a concert in Brooklyn.
The ingredient I had on hand amounted to 2 cups of a very savory broth which remained from the preparation of veal tongue in a dinner enjoyed last week. My idea was to turn it into a hearty soup, with the addition of one of the tiny pasta shapes I’ve often seen, but have never used, like ditalini, tubetti, or acini di pepe. I wanted the pasta to have been made in Italy, and artisanal, but I was at Whole Foods, and didn’t have time to go to either of the shops where I usually find the imported dry pasta I use. I was about to give up when I saw a neat little box with a cellophane window displaying beautiful rice-like shapes. It was orzo. I was charmed, and I was certain I could work with it.
I had no idea it would be so easy, and fun, requiring even less attention than its more common rival, risotto made with rice.
Both before and after cooking it looks very much like rice (specifically, long-grain rice, which isn’t really suitable for risotto), and it’s cooked very much the same as risotto, yet with virtually no stirring. But it tastes like good pasta.
I love pasta, and rice, and now I love orzo, and I’m looking forward to the next time I have some good homemade stock on hand (I only used half of the box last night).
- two tablespoons of rich ‘Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter‘ melted in a heavy, enameled cast iron pan (with a cover) over medium-high heat, 1 cup of Whole Foods brand Italian pastificio organic orzo stirred in, sautéed until lightly browned (some of the pasta will be more brown than the others, which only makes the finished dish more attractive), 2 cups of strained tongue stock (remaining after a veal tongue had simmered in onion, parsley root, celery root, carrot, bay leaf, peppercorns, and spice cloves) stirred in and brought to a boil, the pan covered and the flame reduced to a simmer, the stock absorbed (about 15 minutes), checking at the beginning to be certain the pasta has not stuck to the bottom of the pan, half of a cup of good Parmesan cheese, grated, and about a fourth of a cup of chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge added and stirred in, seasoned with salt and freshly-ground pepper, transferred to bowls and sprinkled with ‘Hong Vit‘ micro Asian purple radish greens, also from Windfall Farms
- the wine was an Oregon (Willamette) red, Montinore Estate Pinot Noir 2013, from Appellation Wine & Spirits [both of those links are to a 2014 vintage]
- after a concert of music by Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, George Benjamin, and Oliver Knussen, it seemed right that the table music was from a recording of the 2008 Musica Viva Festival; the box set includes work by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Jörg Widmann, Matthias Pintscher, Iannis Xenakis, James Dillon, Beat Furrer, Giacinto Scelsi, Rebecca Saunders, and Kaija Saariaho